Monday, May 04, 2009

Democracy and Newspapers — revisited

Considerable discussion has been prompted by a recent City Club forum on whether the impending death of newspapers threatens the survival of democracy.

After an initial post on the topic here on the Red Electric, I threw another log on the fire in my current Southwest Community Connection column, HERE. Its most trenchant points are these:

1. Even when newspapers were thriving, American democracy had (and has) serious problems — poor voter turn-out, lobbyist manipulation, trivializing TV ads, vulnerable voting machines, money calling the shots. The list goes on and on....

2. The Internet's "micro-journalism" will invigorate democracy at the neighborhood level. Look for less "big city" government and demands for more local autonomy. Portland is ripe for this kind of localism and reform.

3. With more people practicing on-line journalism, there's a greater need for accredited journalism education in the schools or on-line. I don't mention it in the column, but we might even grant a registered certificate to those who have been through an on-line journalism course. Also, we'll need a large pack of on-line media watchdogs to keep an eye on on-line media.

Newspapers may be dying, but journalism is flourishing! That can only help democracy.

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